Allison strains against the bonds that tie her to the chair. She remembers the training exercise her father put her through last spring, but she has no arrow-tip to cut through the ropes now, and every little twitch she makes only seems to pull them tighter until she gives up, breathing hard.
Behind her, someone chuckles. She makes the mistake of turning her head towards the sound, and the rope across her neck almost cuts off her air.
Deucalion walks into view, rounding the chair with a smile that has too many teeth. He reaches out and slowly drags a fingernail along the length of the rope, starting at her neck and traveling down towards the one that is fixed diagonally across her torso. If she had room to wiggle, she'd try to get away, but there is nowhere to go.
"Poor little hunter girl. Looks like you're in a bit of a bind there." He chuckles, and Allison wonders how badly he'd hurt her if she told him the pun wasn't really that clever to begin with. "If only you had claws now. One flick of your nail and those inconvenient ties would fall away."
Dread settles in her stomach, and she forces herself to sound calm and polite. "No, thank you."
He raises a quizzical eyebrow at her response. "That wasn't an offer."
"It sounded like one."
His eyes flash scarlet when he leans in, and his wandering finger trails back upwards until it finds bare skin. The tip is inhumanly sharp against her neck, the pressure just enough that he won't draw blood. Allison barely dares to breathe. "If I wanted to give you the bite, I wouldn't be offering."
He brushes against her pulse point, and it takes her a moment to realize that it's not his clawed nail she's feeling anymore but warm skin. She shivers against the touch.
"I bet you'd make a great wolf, though," he continues. "Most hunters would, that's the tragedy of it. They would be strong and deadly and perfect, but they'd sooner die than let themselves become the very thing they were brought up to destroy. But then, you already knew that, didn't you? I heard about your mother. Such a shame, really."
His smile stretches. Allison wants to wipe it away with an arrow through his forehead.
"I'm not my mother," she tells him, taking pride in the fact that her voice is almost steady. "Go ahead, bite me. All that you'll do is give me a better chance at tearing you and your pack apart."
She expects him to get angry at the threat, expects his human features to give way for the monster, expects to feel claws in her flesh. Instead, he throws his head back and laughs, warm and throaty, gray eyes sparkling with genuine mirth. He crouches down in front of her and holds her gaze.
"I like you, Allison," he says, the corners of his mouth twitching.
Allison thinks she'd almost prefer it if he was mocking her, but the way he's watching her with something akin to admiration tells her that he means it. She swallows against the sudden lump in her throat.
Objectively, she knows that he's good-looking, in the way some of her father's hunter friends are good-looking, all bulging muscles and easy self-confidence that comes with power and experience. He's not her type – she likes kind, young boys like Scott that make her smile and who she could overpower if she wanted to. Never mind that she remembers how Jackson used to make her heart flutter for a short while, or how Derek and his dark bad boy looks snuck into her dreams a couple of times back in the days when he was just Scott's mysterious older friend, before she knew what he was.
That's not an excuse she has now, with Deucalion. She knows he's a wolf, knows he's not one of the good ones, knows he's an enemy to Scott and to her father (also to Derek, but this is not one of the cases when the enemy of an enemy is a friend). And yet he oozes a raw, untamed sexual energy that's hard not to notice, no matter how much she tells herself she's unaffected.
His hand, drawing lazy patterns on her skin, raises goosebumps.
It feels good in a way that it shouldn't, in the same way that hearing him tell her that he thinks she'd make a good wolf was stroking her ego. She doesn't want it – doesn't want the bite, doesn't want him, not really (except for the tiny part in the back of her mind where she's locked all her anger and her pain away before the summer, the part that keeps straining against its confines, demanding to be let out), but oh, there's no denying that the attention he gives her is flattering.
She gnaws on her lips until she tastes blood, metallic and bittersweet. Deucalion's nostrils flare, and his eyes turn red.
He sits back on his heels. "What do you think your father would like less? If I delivered you back at his doorstep with the bite on your shoulder, or if I made you my bitch and sent you back home with my litter in your belly?" His tone is so mild and conversational that it takes a few seconds for the crude words to sink in, and when they do, Allison recoils as much as the ropes let her. Her heart is beating in her throat, the unwanted flames of arousal stifling at once and turning into fear.
Deucalion smiles. "Don't worry, I'm not going to. Either one would be a declaration of war, both to the hunters and to the pack, and I don't want to go to war against them. Not just yet, anyway."
He's wrong, Allison thinks. The pack wouldn't care if the Alphas forced the bite on her or raped her or left her for dead. Scott would care, of course, but Scott's not pack, and Derek would barely consider her collateral damage. She doesn't say that, happy to let Deucalion think she's more important than she is, as long as it keeps her safe.
"You should let me go, then, before they come for me," she tells him, trying to sound more confident and fearless than she really feels, hoping that the racing of her pulse won't betray her.
"So let them come. Let's see what they have to offer in exchange for your life. Until then..." He moves towards her lightning fast, hand curving around the back of her neck when he leans in, and she's too stunned to yell as his claws pierce her skin. "Dream of me," he whispers into her ear, hot breath brushing against her skin.
When he pulls away, his fingers are red with her blood. He brings them to his mouth and licks them clean, his eyes never leaving hers.
The wound at the back of her neck tingles, not unpleasantly, even if every shred of her instincts rebels against it. Her lids grow heavy and her body seems to be floating away from her.